ALREADY?!

Oh my goodness!!! It’s that time again! It’s time for school already!

As educators this is such a bittersweet moment. We are excited to see out new students and change lives one child at a time; however, these summers are getting entirely TOO short. We love our profession, but summer break is much needed for recuperating from high-stakes testing and lesson planning. Overworked and underpaid is the phrase right? The high demands of the Common Core Standards calls for an additional month of summer just for planning and relaxation intervals.

Well, all of fellow educators out there, enjoy this school year and remember to relax. You cannot give your all if you do not take care of yourself.

Good Luck!

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The Great Awakening: An ode to the end

It’s the end of the year………and I realize that not only were the seniors graduating but so am I. Not the graduating in formal wardrobe, in pursuits of diplomas or more degrees, but in philosophy, theory, and practice. For me, this journey means the graduation to new levels in education to continue the work of closing the achievement gap with those who are making headway in research and reform. This is where purpose meets passion and passion propels your pursuits. (Alliteration: English will always be my first love) As an educator I revel in the moments of watching young minds sprout and bloom, I marvel at the wonders that our youth create, and despite common misconception I believe our future their future is bright. Someone doesn’t believe that, yet after sharing in the great awakening of the urban mind, it is imperative that work begins to show this great revelation to those outside the class. This is my new challenge and I accept it, wholeheartedly! Join me in change.

Spring Break Revelations: I teach because I see!

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As educators, we often devote so much of our being to our students.  We teach, attend extracurricular activities, grade papers, plan amazing lessons, and repeat.  Yet, we often end up feeling fatigued and sometimes our own family becomes neglected.   In those moments of realization where I have almost reached my peak, I am grateful for the little things like Spring Break.  It is in those moments where we can exhale.  This Spring Break was both much needed and appreciated.    It’s often true, that when we approach the end of the semester we may become so tired that we question how we did get and here and why are we partaking in this continuous rollercoaster.  I got my answer as I visited a restaurant and I sat and observed the diversity, the joy of the, the fear, and hierarchy that though invisible yet innately understood and evident.   I had an “Aha moment” this is exactly why I teach!  I teach because I SEE!

I teach because I SEE. I understand that there are many shades and ALL are worth SEEING. I teach because there are many populations whom are CONSISTENTLY OVER-LOOKED, UNDERESTIMATED, AND DEVALUED, whose purpose and plight often exceed those who will deem them “beneath and less than.” Furthermore, I educate because many have embedded the “inferiority” strand within their DNA and have accepted sub par standards as the status quo. I want them to SEE, to know, and ultimately grow.

As I sat in the restaurant, I saw myself, I saw my home state of Mississippi, and I saw the many faces who populated it all in this one tiny restaurant on the other side of the country.  Yet, it was a marvel that many don’t experience, and a gust of energy to continue to educate so many will work to create a bridge outside of closed-mindedness  and enter into the glorious realm of seeing.  It was a wonderful moment because Seeing is Believing.

Are the Closings of Schools a Pipeline to Prison? Chicago Closes 54 Schools

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“I talked to a member of the school board that I knew and said what a terrible idea I thought it was,” Preckwinkle told me in an interview. “You know, schools are community anchors. They’re social centers. They’re part of a community’s identity. And often kids go half a dozen blocks and they’re in different gang territory”  Toni Preckwinkle

There will be approximately 54 schools are closing in Chicago and approximately 30,000 students will be affected by this.  Many of the schools situated in urban areas, where foreclosures and crime, are evident.  Yet, the move to save funding goes towards closing of schools that may be one of the few symbols of hope and peace.  This is a sad day and terrible moment, and I am wondering if the voters on this closure, recognized that in order for students to see a different option outside of a pressing violent picture in front of them, they must be presented with a positive one in front of them as well, their school.  Not a school blocks away! This can be a new creation of the pipeline to prison.  If want students to know different we must present them with an alternative.  As a teacher, in an urban school, I understand how schools can really anchor a community, where everyone rally’s around sports and other organizations there.

“For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under-resourced schools,” Schools CEO Barbara Byrd

I understand that schools may be underfunded and the students definitely deserve better resources; however, the creation of new programs and activities at schools blocks away from their homes does not increase likelihood of student participation.   Money really is the issue, but some would argue that the premise given isn’t the driving force behind the actions.  However, the Students Are Enough reason to follow this pendulum shift.

Teaching Across the Curriculum: Encouraging Literacy in Science!

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With the push for the Common Core Standards and the Blitz to the End of Course (EOC) exams, it’s great to collaborate with other departments to aid in student success.  As you may know, in terms an evaluation, a win for students on EOC scores is also a win for your evaluation score! Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation to the side, I’ve had the opportunity to share my classroom assignments with my favorite Biology and Chemistry teacher to promote readiness for testing as well as enhance student learning.

Here’s what we did:

Common Core Standards: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4

In English Class students were completing units on Poetry and Poetic devices. We read Robert Frost, did our own nature “walk” and ultimately synthesized the information to create our own “Frost-ian” poems.  Students then presented their poems, while the audience of their peers had to identify the type of poem and literary devices of each classmates (this is a great way to review literary devices) as well as make inferences on the writers perspective.

In Biology Class Students were covering relationships Predation  and Symbiosis as well as cell relationships.  Based on their knowledge of Poetry and poetic devices students were to create their own original piece that identify the story of their topics.  This was an excellent opportunity for students to utilize information from English class as well as create a product that would aid in preparation for exams.  Students could illustrate their poems using posterboards or they could use Animoto to turn their poem into a music video!

Want more information or ideas:

Email us at studentsareenough@gmail.com

8th Grader Commits Suicide at Middle School: We need Change!

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An 8th Grader commits suicide at a Michigan Middle School.  The tragedy and trauma consistently knocking at the doors of our schools is becoming too familiar.   Our children should be enjoying school stress free with the biggest worry being an upcoming assignment in a class.  Yet, for many students their worries and stressors could be far greater than their age.  As a teacher, it strikes a nerve and pierces my heart every time a headline spans the screen with negativity of our schools.  To realize that this headline is that of a loss of child so young is shatters the soul.  There is something wrong, with educational policy, with classroom curriculum. There is something wrong.  Our schools across the countries should be equipped to fully develop our students holistically where they are aware of who they can talk to in times of strife, where they are aware the classics and are charged to “write” the new classics, as well as leave prepared to have productive lives through industry and education.  Yet financially schools aren’t equipped to handle a task and students, teachers and staff are left to carry a burden that is heavy.  The #StudentsareEnough reason to explore change.  Something has to change!

Rachel Elle

 

Spring Break: Why Teachers and Students Need it!

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It’s my first full day of Spring Break, and I must say that I breathed a sigh of relief.  No, my district isn’t “different” and starts our break on random Thursday’s, I just opted in to work a tutoring schedule for students for their upcoming End of Course exams.  Nonetheless, I still believe that the break days that I didn’t take were needed for myself and my students.   As teachers, we will continuously be subjected to the “your job is so easy” or “you’re on break again” remarks from our friends, family, and the general public who do not experience these “undeserved vacations” that we get.   Yet, as in insider we understand that these breaks are BITTERSWEET (oxymoron….even when I’m trying to get away from my content I can’t!).   On one hand we are all racing for the door, thankful that the early days and late evenings are coming to an end for a moment, while on the opposite we cringe at the idea that our student may “forget” a full semester worth of lessons in only a short week.  This thought will cause worry, and maybe make us lose some of the rests that we should be getting over our break.   Though the WORLD may view our break as unnecessary and undeserved, I’m here to tell each of my fellow educators and students that you need this moment to step away and realize what life is outside of the block walls.  This is your opportunity to see, and SEE you must!  Awake to the morning dew and notice how it rest on the window pane, enjoy the sunshine clouds, and the rain.  See what is happening around you; and bask in the glorious moment of not having to go anywhere.   You deserve this break because we NEED this moment to SEE; so see…..

Rachel Elle

Missoula teachers worry about future of special education programs

Missoula teachers worry about future of special education programs.  As the upcoming budget cuts go into place, special education funding is yet again at risk for students, teachers, and staff.  It is no secret that schools are asked to “do a lot more with less!”  For Missoula County teachers that may have to go above and beyond for some 1000 special education students in their district.  Education budget cuts may not be avoidable; however the students are enough reason to explore opportunities that benefits them all and not a few.

Storybird Lessons: Interactive Technology in Your Lesson Plans!

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I always seek to find new ways to present traditional lessons in my classroom.  This week in English II, marks the completion of a review of Literary Devices, Figurative Language, and Drama Elements.  We have discussed how each these affects text, music,movies, plays and etc.  My students also were presented with test prep questions that related to lessons! What better way to complete this project that to utilize the site http://www.storybird.com!  Here’s what my sophomores did; we had a great “flashback” moment and reflected on their “younger” years.  They journaled key memories of their childhood.  Then they were allowed to create accounts on http://www.storybird.com! They then chose artwork and themes to turn their lives into a children’s book!  Of course they had elements that they had to include from our previous lessons on Drama Elements, Literary Devices, and Figurative Language; however, they had free reign to create their stories.  This was an awesome ending to some really fun lessons!  How did you integrate technology interaction in your classroom?

studentsareenough:

Senior prank; maybe or maybe not! It’s great to see that administrators are not taking any potential chaotic event lightly. With the horrible school incidents that have occurred within the past 3 months, it is comforting to know that #StudentsareEnough as well as teachers, staff, and other employees to ensure school safety. I’m also grateful; that what could have been a terrible tragedy ended with only a note.

Originally posted on CBS Connecticut:

Ellis Technical High School on Maple Street in Killingly was evacuated Friday morning after a written bomb threat was found on a bathroom stall.  The threat gave a specific time for the incident. .

State Police responded and searched the building.  Classes were canceled for the remainder of the day and students were sent home.  The State Police Bomb Squad responded but no device and no suspicious packages were found.  No one was hurt, and the incident remains under investigation.

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